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Rainfall in recent weeks has turned cotton prospects from horrible to hopeful across most of the Southwest, but increased moisture also exposed growers to other challenges—storm damage, plant disease and weed pressure
Shane McLellan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for McLennan County inspects cotton on the Stiles Farm during last week’s annual field day. Cotton in the Blacklands has overcome a slow start and shows promise of making a decent crop, say Extension observers.
The situation in Oklahoma has also turned, says Randy Boman, research director and cotton Extension program leader. “We are in good shape in most areas where we grow cotton. We picked up another 0.9 of an inch at Altus Monday. Over the past three weeks, we have had good to great rainfall over many areas –from four inches to more than 6 inches— but unfortunately eastern Tillman, southern Comanche, and Cotton counties have been on the low side of that rainfall.”
He says most of Oklahoma’s cotton crop is in the ground with stands up in most fields. “The final date for insurance purposes for southwestern counties was June 20. Folks were wrapping up planting last week.”
Insect pressure (thrips) has been light. “Thanks for good to excellent rainfall, we have weeds to beat back. We have been encouraging producers to use residual products with glyphosate applications. Because of recent rainfall, we expect a lot of fleahopper populations to build up in weed and alternate host plants. We have had grasshopper populations show up, and growers are watching those. Hopefully the rainfall will trigger the fungus that works over the grasshopper populations.”
Boman says overall Oklahoma cotton producers are off to a good start. “We have some early cotton planted around April 30 in Harmon County that was at one-third grown square last week.”
Irrigation remains a concern. “The bad news is that we still have not had substantial runoff into Lake Lugert, so we are still looking at no irrigation water for the District around Altus.”